Murakami's second collection of short stories is a perfect introduction to his writing for freshies. Simply put, all his works can be neatly split into 2 factions - weird shit, and not-so-weird-shit. His shorts allow the novice Murakami reader to traverse both worlds; if the former category appeals, pick up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World. If the latter appeals, it's South Of The Border West Of The Sun, or Norweigian Wood for you. Either way you'll be in for a treat. These stories chart his writing career for 25 years, and some were initial drafts that later grew into full length novels. Also, they span the range of his literary themes - love, loss, yearning, memory, reality, dualism, parallel lives, invisible intertwined threads of connection. Murakami's writing goes a lot by feel and atmosphere - like passing through a fog and losing your sense of navigation. You can pick apart and analyse each sentence to death, but it's not going to reveal the mysteries inherent between the lines and enlighten you with the meaning the author intended. Interpretation and the motivation of some characters is often left largely up to you. Perhaps some doors are best left locked.